How can you reduce your carbon footprint? Five experts share simple tips


A group holds posters in front of a mass gathering of G7 protesters organized by the environmental organization Surfers Against Sewage on Gyllyngvase Beach on Dec.

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Governments around the world are committed to becoming carbon neutral in the decades to come and helping to reduce the impact of our daily activities on the environment.

But what can we do as individuals?

CNBC speaks to five experts who share their ideas on how to improve our carbon footprint.

1. Ask questions

Nasreen Sheikh is committed to poverty and fast fashion. She was born in a small village on the border between India and Nepal and worked in a sweatshop when she was around 10 years old.

According to the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2018 Report, more than $ 127 billion in garments imported annually by the G-20 are likely to come from modern slavery.

The core of the problem, says Sheikh, is that “people don’t ask questions: where my clothes, where chocolate or where my coffee comes from”.

In order to live more sustainably, she suggests: “I think beyond the price and look at the people who make our clothes, I read the label and ask questions: who made my clothes? And I only support ethical, sustainable and fairtrade brands. “

2. Your food

A plant-based diet “has benefits for the whole planet, society and people as a whole,” said Shireen Kassam, founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, a group that educates and promotes plant-based nutrition CNBC.

According to Our World in Data, beef is the most polluting food in modern agriculture, emitting 99.48 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food. Lamb and mutton follow with 39.72 kg per kilogram of feed.

Says Kassam, “The simple gains are getting rid of red and processed meats because, for both health and the environment, it’s the greatest impact you can make as an individual.”

“And instead of thinking about taking away or avoiding or limiting food, it’s actually a diet full of abundance – we have thousands of edible plants,” she said.

3. Your energy

“Most of the energy we use in the house is for heating and hot water. Check whether you have a heating control, whether it is set to a comfortable level and that your heating only comes on when you need it. Because when it’s on, when you’re out and about, it’s just a waste of energy, “said Laura McGadie, group leader for energy at the Energy Saving Trust, a UK nonprofit.

Our energy consumption plays a big role in our carbon footprint. In order to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2050, CO2 emissions from household heating and hot water must be reduced by 95% over the next 30 years in the UK alone.

“Another thing you can do is make sure you don’t leave your devices on standby,” she said, adding that it could save you about 25 pounds ($ 34.7) a year.

And when it comes to your cell phone, “Once it’s 100% charged, you don’t want to charge it anymore. So unplug it and turn it off the wall because you will feel the phone charger plug slipping out of place often warm when it gets warm it uses up energy, “said McGadie too.

4. Your waste

Plastic production expanded from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons in 2015, according to National Geographic.

In addition, around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year.

Melanie Fisher, the founder of Zero Waste Goods, a sustainable events company, said there are three parts to how she deals with her own plastic waste. The first is due diligence on the products it purchases.

“Then I take care of the products that I already own. So if you can extend the life of something by repairing it or even donating to charity … products I use? ”She told CNBC.

“I’ve really slimmed down what I’ve used with my personal care products, and I try to make sure the things I buy have no packaging where possible,” added Fisher.

“With my beauty products, I make sure I buy from a brand that either lets you have the products refilled or is made entirely of glass or cans so you can make sure they can be recycled,” she added.

5. General consumption

The United States is the largest consumer market in the world, according to the nonprofit Brookings Institution.

In 2020, American residents spent more than $ 3 billion on soft goods like cars, clothing, and groceries, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed.

20 years ago, however, the consumption of goods in the US was only half as high.

Elizabeth Teo, who has a double degree in physical and environmental geography and environmental studies from the University of Toronto, told CNBC that everyone approaches sustainability differently.

“[It] depends on what is easiest for you, what areas you have access to, “he said.

“For me personally, I’m just trying to buy less in general. I think that’s really what everyone has to do.”